NAS Corpus Christi Naval Security Force (NSF) personnel, who heroically stopped an armed gunman on May 21, were recognized for their actions during a formal ceremony held Oct. 8.
The Honorable Gregory Slavonic, acting Under Secretary of the Navy, personally presented the 11 Sailors and one civilian with their awards.
“I am honored to be able to present these awards today,” Slavonic said. “Five months ago, these individuals’ rapid, decisive actions, and their courage under fire, ensured no loss of life,” Slavonic said. “This surprise assault could have been deadlier, but they utilized their training and responded swiftly and exceptionally thwarting the nefarious intent by the intruder.”
On May 21, at approximately 6:15 a.m., an armed suspect attempted to enter the Naval Air Station Ocean Gate. As his vehicle approached, the he fired a handgun hitting the sentry, Master-at-Arms Second Class Petty Officer (MA2) Yaisa Coburn, in her protective vest; and then attempted to proceed on to the base.
Coburn immediately activated the Final Denial Barrier (FDB), radioed dispatch, and returned fire. The second sentry, MA3 Levi Milligan, exposed himself to hostile fire to go to his chase vehicle in order to be prepared to chase the suspect.
When the barrier stopped the vehicle, the gunman got out of his car and started shooting at Milligan with semi-automatic rifle fire.
Other members of the NSF team quickly responded to the scene and engaged the gunman. The gunman targeted these responding personnel and their vehicles with his semi-automatic rifle. While the gunman engaged these units, Coburn and Milligan neutralized the gunman without his ever having gained access to the base.
Responding NSF personnel included Federal Officer Stuart Levitt; MA1 Candace Dickson, watch commander/incident commander; MA2 Jamie Moore, patrol supervisor/on-scene commander; MA3 Daniel Wallace; MA2 Lorne Mayfield; MA2 Robert Delgado; MA2 Franko Hunter; and MA2 Gregory Listman.
As the scene was being cleared, Levitt identified a package in the passenger seat of the gunman’s vehicle as a possible Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and directed the watch team to evacuate all personnel in the area to a safe standoff. Shortly thereafter, multiple law enforcement agencies arrived and supported the effort to clear the scene, restore the base to normal operations, and investigate the incident. Those agencies included: the Corpus Christi Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, ATF, NCIS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Coast Guard Investigative Service, the Texas State Attorney’s office, and the FBI.
“I am extremely proud of our Security personnel,” Capt. Chris Jason, NAS Corpus Christi commanding officer said. “The Sailors who first encountered the shooter displayed tremendous courage and took immediate action under fire that allowed Naval Security Forces to respond quickly and effectively. The NSF team promptly contained the situation and prevented the suspect from gaining access to the base, its employees and residents. They definitely saved lives.”
MACS Scott Fiske, NSF senior enlisted advisor, added, “We train constantly to ensure the safety of our base. Our drills are varied, so that we may prepare for any contingency. And, the training paid off in stopping the perpetrator. I am very proud of their actions.”
Coburn and Milligan both received Navy and Marine Corps Medals, the highest non-combat decoration awarded for heroism, which has to do with the actual level of personal “life threatening” risk they took.
Levitt was awarded the Distinguished Civilian Medal for Valor, the highest honorary recognition the Secretary of the Navy can award to a civilian employee for unusual acts of heroism beyond the call of duty.
The seven Sailors that responded to the scene were awarded Navy Commendation Medals, presented for meritorious service under fire.
Two Sailors, MA3 Colby Gillette and MASN Edmond Cristales were also recognized for their responsiveness in securing the South/Main Gate to all traffic and establishing an emergency entry for responding mutual aid assistance.
Jason added, “I am very grateful to our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners for their response that day. We will continue to work closely with these agencies in the protection of our installation.”